In this Nikon D5300 review, we’ll look at what makes this camera a good choice for competent beginners and those with a little more experience as well. The D5300 digital single-lens reflex is the second step in its APS-C series, a level above the D5200. Like others in the series, it has a 24-megapixel sensor and a comfortable height and weight. Styling itself as the “advanced beginner” model, this DSLR offers increased control for the photographer and enhanced features for both still photography and videography.
Nikon’s D5300: Pros & Cons
Design Features: Nikon D5300 Review
The LCD screen on the back of the D5300 camera is 3.2 inches wide and fully articulated, meaning you can move it in all directions instead of just tilting up and down. With both tilt and swivel capabilities, photographers have 39 total angle options with this model. Although technically it has nearly 100,000 additional pixels in comparison to the beginner model, the D5300’s increase is due to a difference in aspect ratio. The cameras are comparable in the quality of details. The optical viewfinder on the Nikon follows other models in its class, offering 95 percent coverage and a magnification of 0.52x. Additional features include:
- Pop-up flash: At ISO 100, the guide is 12 meters. Its housing raises high enough to avoid most shadowing when you’re swapping out bigger lenses. There is no wireless control feature for external flash, however.
- Autofocus illuminator: In lights that are too dim for focus, the camera triggers a strong LED. Using the quiet shutter mode temporarily disables the AF illuminator, or you can turn it off through the menu functions.
- Drive mode: For action shots, there are multiple framerate options. You will also find a remote-control mode for use with your smart device and a self-timer.
- Ports: The body features an MC-DC2 cable release for video capture or stills, stereo mic jack, USB/AV ports and an HDMI socket that is CEC compatible.
- Memory card: Options include SD, SDHC, and SDXC, as well as high-speed UHS-I cards.
- Internal AF motor: This is missing in the D5300. For autofocus, you’ll have to purchase the camera maker’s AF-S lenses or choose a third-party version.
A great feature of the D5300 is the infrared receivers, front, and rear, that work with a wireless remote. With this little gadget, you can trigger the shutter while in front of the camera, as well as behind it.
A Look at Controls: Nikon D5300 Review
On the back of the camera is a menu button that opens the main menus. Another button you’ll find back there is the AF-L/AE-L, which locks the automatic exposure and focus, separately or together. You can also set it up as “AF-ON”, a preference of sports photographers because it allows you to focus free of the shutter. To zoom in and out on a subject in live view mode, use the magnify buttons near the bottom of the camera. A playback button and a four-way controller for repositioning the autofocus point is also on the back.
The function button is on the front of the camera. It works much like a reset button, reverting to your custom settings. Options you can set under the Fn button include:
- White balance
- AF area mode
- Active D-lighting
- ISO sensitivity
- Image quality and size
- HDR mode
On the top of the camera are the shooting controls for scene and effects modes, which you set through a free-turning dial. The Nikon is limited here in comparison to others in its class, which offer two dials and more options. With the dial is a lever that allows you to select live view. Separate buttons are for movie record and exposure compensation. Use a thumb wheel to set the aperture.
Camera Features: Nikon D5300 Review
The D5300 is Nikon’s first DSLR with built-in Wi-Fi, which gives you remote control through your smart device when you choose “take photos” from the home screen. The other option is “view photos”, which you use to move photos off the camera. For faster transfer of images, select them for transfer as you review them. Unfortunately, this model does not have many camera control choices in remote control mode other than autofocus, shutter release and self-timer options.
If you would like to use GPS tagging, another Nikon first with this model, choose “record location data” in the setup menu. Each image includes altitude, latitude, and longitude, but this feature takes a toll on battery life. By enabling location logging, you allow continuous recording of your location whether or not you’re taking pictures. This setting drains the battery even when the camera is turned off. Because it relies on satellite communication, the signal can get lost or blocked by large buildings. The camera includes a signal strength icon that you can reference.
The high dynamic range is available in five settings, from low to extra-high, as well as automatic mode. The HDR feature is something used to collect greater detail from the dark and too-light areas of the picture. It works by taking two exposures and combining them into a single JPEG.
Camera Performance: Nikon D5300 Review
Nikon’s D5300 autofocus is fast and mostly accurate unless you use it in extremely low light. In low-light conditions, the autofocus will, at times, report that a scene is in focus when it is not. Its lenses are quick to focus, but it can be difficult choosing just one autofocus point from the 39 offered. Overall, the D5300 is responsive and much the same as the D5200, with rapid adjustment to changes in settings and shooting parameters, as well as menu navigation.
Continuous focus is an option for photographers in low- or high-speed burst shooting, but it causes a lag in frame rate as the D5300 adjusts the focus each time. The camera’s highest burst rate is 5.0 frames per second in JPEG mode. The lowest rate is 3.0. When the buffer is full, the camera continues shooting, but at a lower rate as it saves images.
A lithium-ion battery with a 600-shot life per charge replaces the battery pack in the beginner’s model, which supplies 500 shots. A quick charger comes with the camera that restores the battery to a full charge in just a few hours. These battery life rates do not account for GPS or Wi-Fi use.
Image and Video Quality: Nikon D5300 Review
At 24 megapixels, the Advanced Photo System type-C sensor is robust in resolution and dynamic range. An anti-aliasing filter is lacking, but most users won’t need it. If you shoot JPEGs, you can apply distortion correction, or use a kit lens which functions to blur away any moiré effects.
Video clips are also great with this camera. Its frame rate outdoes even higher-end models, while the D5300 performs comparably to rolling shutter as other cameras. You must look closely to see a tiny bit of the effect in moving objects, such as a bus, with vertical lines. It’s not noticeable otherwise.
Video Features: Nikon D5300 Review
HDMI output without compression and a 1080/60p resolution/frame rate are great features in this model, along with a built-in stereo mic that enables fine-tuning. Videographers will appreciate the ability to tape uncompressed video via the HDMI port and avoid problems with compression artifacts. Only high-end cameras have this feature in Canon and Sony models. The downside is that the shooter must record uncompressed video to an external device connected via the HDMI port. Recording to the SD card causes the HDMI output to fall to 720p.
Nikon D5300 Review: Comparing Cameras
For this Nikon D5300 review, we looked at Canon, Olympus and Pentax models that are similar. Like the D5300, the touch screen on Canon’s T5i is fully articulated, while the Olympus E-M10 model has a tilting screen, which moves on a single axis. Pentax includes just a fixed screen on its K-50. Nikon’s viewfinder magnification is marginally larger than Canon’s, 0.52x to 0.51x, but smaller than Olympus at 0.58x and Pentax at 0.61x.
The T5i is the closest in most comparisons to Nikon’s D5300, and Nikon offers a higher resolution sensor, additional AF points and can shoot 1080/60p video compared to Canon’s 30p. Canon’s model offers an LCD screen that is touch sensitive, which is easier to use when you are in movie mode or using live view. The T5i also has quicker autofocus and AF tracking.
Nikon D5300 Review: Comparing Pricing
Nikon’s base D5300 model starts at $599.95. Canon’s EOS Rebel T6i starts at $549.99 (the T5i is available refurbished starting at $378.99). Olympus has an E-M10 MARK III model that starts at $649.99. Pentax has the K-70 for sale beginning at $649.95.
What We Think: Nikon D5300 Review
Nikon’s D5300 is a good choice for beginners and intermediate photographers, with an autofocus feature that can be turned on and off in favor of basic controls. With the highest resolution sensor in its class, the D5300 offers excellent, high-resolution images, with the added feature of 1080/60p video recording. It is a little clunky having to use the menu to access features that other cameras have made easily accessible with a touchscreen. Its Wi-Fi capabilities are a step up from the beginner model, but the competition has these features too.
The articulated display is an impressive feature to include. However, shooters using autofocus won’t like the slower speed. In handling, the D5300 is light and nimble with a nice balance that feels good in your hands, even when using larger zoom lenses.
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